I have wanted for a long time to write about giving a gift to ourselves. The ‘gift of therapy’ is one gift that can be hard to choose and yet the benefits to mental health, physical health, emotional health and spiritual health are remarkable. I only have to ask a client who was, for example, depressed before starting therapy as to what their life was like. They tell me that life for them was difficult, a dark hole. They felt alone and had no interest in what was going on around them. After choosing the gift of therapy for themselves they tell me of the new world that has awoken for them. They tell me they had choices, and energy to make choices, improved mental health and life is brighter. Similarly for a client who was anxious all the time. Before choosing the gift of therapy, they described their life as one where everything caused them to be anxious, and afraid. They had low self-esteem and no desire to socialise. After choosing therapy they experienced many emotions and had the ability to monitor what triggered the anxiety and better reduce their exposure to anxiety and overall, had gained a much better understanding of themselves.
For lots of us we go through life being defined by other people, taking on other people’s belief of us and we forget who we are. We lose sight of who we want to be in life. We focus on our weaknesses and forget our strengths and our talents. A good everyday example of this is to talk to someone who lost a match or a game. They would likely focus on the missed opportunities. We would seldom hear them tell us how well the rest of the match went.
Sometimes life events leave us feeling alone and unable to deal with daily tasks such as work and home life even when we are surrounded by family and friends. It can be hard to reach out for support and admit that you are finding life hard especially when all those around you appear to be coasting by. It can be so easy to believe and feel that nobody understands. Finding a therapist that can support, understand and help us see the situation from different perspectives allows us a space to explore who we are in a non-judgemental way. It may be hard to talk to family about feelings such as anger, shame, and loneliness. A therapist, when the therapeutic relationship is established with the client, is able to explore what the meaning of the feeling is in the ‘now’ and what choices the client has ‘now’, rather than staying in the past experience. The therapist reflect’s back what their sense is and with the client get clarification as to what is the best way to be resilient and move forward.
Therapy usually is weekly for one hour in duration, can be over many weeks and for some people for years. As a Gestalt Psychotherapist having therapy was a mandatory part of my training, and remains an important part of my self-care post training; so I speak from both a personal and professional point of view. Therapy allows me to get to know myself better, increasing my own self-awareness of who I am right now in this moment. It allows me to explore what are my core values, beliefs, and what are my own strengths and weaknesses. What gives me joy and what causes me pain.
We give everyone around us gifts for Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversary and different occasions. I believe the greatest gift you can give ourselves is: “our own presence”. So choose the gift of therapy today for you.